Recognise the B.E.A.T. signs of ovarian cancer

B is for bloating that doesn’t come and go

E is for eating difficulty and feeling full more quickly

A is for abdominal and pelvic pain you feel most days

T is for toilet changes in urination or bowel habits


If you have any of these symptoms which are new and persistent, tell your doctor.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer can vary from woman to woman.

There are other symptoms such as:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Indigestion
  • Weight loss
  • Feeling unusually tired
  • Pain during sex
  • Pain or lumps in your pelvic area

It is far more likely that these symptoms will be due to something less serious than ovarian cancer.

If they don’t go, keep track of your symptoms with our B.E.A.T. symptom diary for a couple of weeks and then talk to your GP.

Currently ovarian cancer is investigated using a blood test to measure levels of CA125, a protein in your blood which can rise with ovarian cancer. Your GP can arrange this test.  

CA125 levels over 35 suggest further tests are needed to identify the reason for the higher level.  Ultrasound scans or CT scans are then used to try and diagnose the cause. These are painless tests that create images of the inside of your body. 

Sometimes the symptoms of ovarian cancer are mistaken for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). IBS usually occurs for the first time between the ages of 20-30 so it would be very unusual for a woman over this age to experience IBS for the first time. The NICE guidance is: “Carry out appropriate tests for ovarian cancer in any woman of 50 or over who has experienced symptoms within the last 12 months that suggest irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), because IBS rarely presents for the first time in women of this age.”  

Although ovarian cancer can occur at any age, it mostly occurs in women over the age of 50. If you have a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer you may be more at risk.

Smear tests do not detect ovarian cancer.